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Resistance is Futile @chrisngwodo
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Recent events in the law enforcement &national security sector have led me to recall the infamous exploits of Lawrence Anini. Thread.
Lawrence Anini aka "The Law" was a gangster who terrorized Benin City&environs in the mid 1980s.He was a political thug in the 2nd republic
Anini cast himself as a modern day Robin Hood&he and his armed robbery gang were known to occasionally share their loot in the markets.
Anini was the first gangster to target the police. He claimed he was doing so in revenge for his brother's death during a police raid.
His gang tried to assassinate the Bendel state police commissioner. 2 cops were killed. Their target survived but was flown out for surgery
Though semi-literate, Anini wrote letters frequently to the police&press. Sometimes he sent fake informants to misdirect the police.
Once he wrote a letter giving his terms for peace with the Bendel police.He asked the police to stop their "persecution" of armed robbers...
He also asked them to stop their harassment of market women returning from village markets&stop bribery & extortion by the highway patrol.
Anini blurred the lines between gangsterism&terrorism. He became a virtual parallel government in Bendel&captured the national imagination
Head of State Gen. Ibrahim Babangida famously asked the IGP Etim Inyang, "Where is Anini?" His exploits had become a national embarrassment
A team led by Parry Osayande, a detective with a growing reputation, was assembled&dispatched to Benin City to apprehend Anini&his gang.
After a 4 month-manhunt, the team arrested Anini&his gang. They were put on trial - a national TV event that made for rivetting viewing.
The investigation and the prosecution were thorough. Virtually all of the gang were arrested or killed during the manhunt.
The equally notorious Monday Osunbor, Anini's second in command, who was a reputedly ruthless killer was also arrested and tried.
George Iyamu, a deputy superintendent of police who was the gang's accomplice&also supplied them with arms was tried and executed.
The gang was found guilty of the charges against them&sentenced to death by firing squad. Anini was just 26 when he was executed in 1986.
Within months, a ruthless gangster-terrorist & his posse had been arrested, tried & executed. Effective police work&prosecution did the job
Osayande's reputation as a super cop grew&he eventually led the FIIB Alagbon. How his career ended prematurely is a story for another day.
The institutional responses that brought down Anini&his gang is impossible to re-enact today. It's a measure of how weak the state has grown
Today, the army would be deployed to hunt down Anini&failing which the govt would offer an amnesty&bribes to get them to lay down their arms
The government routinely appeases armed non-state actors. Even cult gangs responsible for multiple murders are being offered amnesties.
A police force effective&competent enough to address a threat of the scale of Anini is now inconceivable to the Nigerian imagination.
Law enforcement as an idea is in retreat.The criminal justice system is broken.The police has been subverted,neglected&degraded for 20 years
This is the all-important backdrop for understanding the Offa incident where a raid on 5 banks featured a bloody assault on the police.
Emboldened by the state's manifest weakness, armed gangs will increasingly adopt insurgency techniques&tip the balance of terror their way.
Police reform is essential. So also a broad spectrum reform of our law enforcement, criminal justice&national security institutions.
These threats to public order won't be solved by the default response of deploying an overstretched army&they won't go anyway anytime soon.
A fuller article is on the way. END.
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